Party registration affects the way we live

Grant McGee: Local columnist

Over at the Curry County Courthouse, in County Clerk Mario Trujillo’s office, which political party do the records show you’re registered with?

This hot race that’s going on for the district attorney’s job with people switching parties so they can vote in the race got me thinking and reminiscing.

I registered as a Socialist once.

Now, now, now, don’t get your dander up. If you study American history, you’ll see a Socialist on the ballot during the presidential elections from 1900 to 1920. Just look up the story of Eugene V. Debs.

Anyway, I was living in West Virginia. I hadn’t been out of college very long and I was kind of disillusioned about a few things.

Of course being a Socialist during the time when President Ronald Reagan referred to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as the “evil empire,” during one of the more tense times of the Cold War, probably wasn’t a good idea.

But hey, I was banking on the idea that America is “land of the free” and that we pride ourselves in our philosophy of free speech.

I signed up for the party paper and got a little freaked out when the first issue came addressed to “Comrade Grant McGee.”

Maybe a month after I registered as a Socialist my mail started coming to me already opened. Well, OK, not all of it, but enough to make me wonder what was going on.

I marched down to the local post office, probably about as big as the one at St. Vrain.

“My mail is being opened by the government,” I said with all the self-righteous, testosterone- and vinegar-induced indignation I could muster at 20-something.

The guy behind the counter looked over the top of his glasses at me.

“Really,” he said.

“Yeah, and I think it’s because I registered as a Socialist.”
I think he tried to keep from laughing out loud.

“Um, there’s been a problem with the mail coming out of our processing center,” he said. “A lot of people’s mail is getting damaged.”

Then I tried to vote in a primary. Though there were no Socialists on the ballot there were some other folks I wanted to vote for.

“You can’t vote, you’re registered as a Socialist,” said the lady behind the desk after she looked up my name.

“What? What?” I said (again) with all the self-righteous, testosterone- and vinegar-induced 20-something indignation I could muster. “This is a right-wing conspiracy!”
The lady leaned back in her chair.

“You didn’t grow up around here, did you,” she said. “You can’t vote in the primary because there are no Socialist candidates. If there were any Socialist candidates, we’d let you vote all you want one time.”

“Oh.”

Not long after that I went down to the county courthouse and changed my registration to one of the more mainstream American political parties.

Not long after that my mail stopped coming to me damaged.

I guess they fixed the machine at the central processing center.